Panama Papers: The Report of the JIT

The full report of the Joint Investigation Team JIT, formed in the aftermath of the revelations contained in the Panama Papers, be found here. The report is not a judgment and commentators are divided over whether the document is sufficient to lead to the removal of prime minister Nawaz Sharif from office. NDTV reports that the JIT accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam of presenting fake documents on two 2006 declarations to the probe team using the “Calibri” font which was not commercially available till January 30, 2007. The JIT, which is probing allegations of money laundering against Mr Sharif and his family, said Maryam Nawaz, her brothers Hussain and Hassan Nawaz as well as her husband Captain Mohammad Safdar (retd), had signed false documents to mislead the Supreme Court.

The team that probed offshore assets of Sharif family said in its report that Maryam Nawaz claimed herself to be “trustee not the owner” of Avenfield properties in London, which linked her to Minerva Services and Samba Financial, Geo News reported. The JIT said that her claim turned out to be completely wrong and it was proven that she owned the properties managed by Minerva Services. The JIT concluded that Mr Sharif’s daughter was the real and ultimate beneficial owner of the Avenfield apartments. Continue reading

Book Review: The Exile – Osama Bin Laden after 9/11

This is a fantastic book review in the Guardian (1 July 2017) by Owen Bennett-Jones. 

The investigative reporters have produced a revelatory work about al-Qaida members in hiding in Pakistan and Iran between 2001 and 2011. At the time of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, Osama bin Laden was in an Afghan cave, unable to get a decent TV satellite signal and forced to follow developments on the radio. The contrast between his situation and his impact was to be a theme of the next decade until, eventually, the Americans caught up with him in the raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011. It’s a decade that The Exile describes with a remarkable amount of impressive new detail.

Investigative reporters Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy start with a detailed account of Bin Laden’s movements. When the US air strikes began, he flitted through various locations in Afghanistan, all the while trying to manage the movements of his wives and children. He was on his way to a meeting with Mullah Omar in Kandahar on 7 October 2001 when a US drone came close to killing them both. From there he moved to an underground complex in the Tora Bora mountains near the Pakistan border. The US assaulted Tora Bora but, again, Bin Laden managed to slip away, and on 14 December 2001 he turned up in the Pakistani city of Karachi. Feeling too exposed there, he moved back to Afghanistan in February 2002 before reaching northern Pakistan in the summer. There he lived with one of his wives, Amal, and their nine-month-old daughter Safiyah in the remote village of Kutkey, home to the in-laws of his courier and guard, Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti. Continue reading

Observer: WhatsApp warriors on the new frontline of Kashmir’s conflict

This is fascinating reporting from the Observer (9 July 2017) on the unrest in Kashmir:

It started with a phone call from a dying militant that went viral. Now angry, educated youth, inspired by social media, are demonstrating in their thousands. The young militant would be dead in a few minutes. Indian security forces had the house surrounded. As they closed in, Muzamil Amin Dar made a phone call.

“There is nothing to worry about,” he is heard calmly telling his family on a tape of the call. “Sooner or later we all have to face death, isn’t that right?” He falls silent; the recording ends in a shrill chorus of women’s screams.

The killing of the commander from the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba in October 2012 looked like any other death in the 27-year insurgency that has racked Indian-controlled Kashmir. What made it different was barely appreciated at the time. Days after Dar’s last conversation with his family, the recording of the call began to circulate online, spreading like wildfire across the Kashmir valley. Uploads to YouTube were played tens of thousands of times. Within months, copycat “last calls” from other dying militants began to surface. A trend was born.

It was one of the earliest interventions of social media in a conflict that has been transformed by technology. Unlike the shadowy militants of the 1990s, Kashmir’s new crop of anti-India fighters are WhatsApp warriors, achieving with selfies what they have struggled to do with guns. In the hands of young Kashmiris, the internet has become a weapon: images of dissent met by teargas and bullets in the street are flourishing online. Continue reading

Jadhav Case (India v Pakistan) Provisional Measures

India has been trying to extradite Pakistani nationals languishing in prisons worldwide on the basis of DNA evidence so that these persons can be used as pawns in prisoner swaps probably in exchange for persons such as Mr Jadhav whose execution was stayed by the ICJ today. The full press release is available below. Notably, Pakistan and India are Contracting Parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 and whilst Article 6 does not prohibit the death penalty, it restricts its application to the most serious crimes. This case  turns on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963.

The Court indicates to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that it must take “all measures at its disposal” to prevent the execution of an Indian national, Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, pending final judgment of the Court

THE HAGUE, 18 May 2017. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), principal judicial organ of the United Nations, today indicated to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that it must “take all measures at its disposal” to ensure that Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, of Indian nationality, is not executed pending a final judgment of the Court in the Jadhav Case (India v. Pakistan).

In its Order indicating provisional measures, which was adopted unanimously, the Court also stated that the Government of Pakistan shall inform it of all measures taken in implementation of that Order. It further decided to remain seised of the matters which form the subject of the Order until it has rendered its final judgment.

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ICJ: The Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav Case

See the press releases of the ICJ in this case: The Republic of India institutes proceedings against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and requests the Court to indicate provisional measures and Urgent Communication to Pakistan from the President under Article 74, paragraph 4, of the Rules of Court and The Court to hold public hearings on Monday 15 May 2017.

THE HAGUE, 9 May 2017. On 8 May 2017, the Republic of India instituted proceedings against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, accusing the latter of “egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations” (hereinafter the “Vienna Convention”) in the matter of the detention and trial of an Indian national, Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan.

The Applicant contends that it was not informed of Mr. Jadhav’s detention until long after his arrest and that Pakistan failed to inform the accused of his rights. It further alleges that, in violation of the Vienna Convention, the authorities of Pakistan are denying India its right of consular access to Mr. Jadhav, despite its repeated requests. The Applicant also points out that it learned about the death sentence against Mr. Jadhav from a press release.

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Rereading Primo Levi

Primo Levi’s If This is a Man at 70 was published in the Guardian. Philippe Sands explores the lessons of Levi’s humanity-filled holocaust memoir: was 19 when I first read If This Is a Man, and the book filled a gap created by the shadows cast across an otherwise happy childhood home by Auschwitz and Treblinka: my maternal grandparents, rare survivors of the horrors, never talked about their experiences or those who were disappeared, and in this way Levi’s account spoke directly, and personally, offering a fuller sense of matters for which words were not permitted.

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His has not been the only such book – there are others, including more recent works such as Thomas Buergenthal’s A Lucky Child, Göran Rosenberg’s A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz, and Marceline Loridan-Ivans’s But You Did Not Come Back – but it was the first. He was a messenger of detail, allowing me to see and feel matters of dread and horror: waiting for a deportation order; travelling in a cattle cart by train; descending a ramp for selection; imagining what it must be like to know you are about to be gassed and cremated; struggling for survival surrounded by people you love and hate.

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Panama Papers Judgment

Constitution Petition No. 29 of 2016 or the Panama Papers Scandal judgment was handed down today by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The Panama Papers are a giant leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposing a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies.

The Supreme Court ruled there is insufficient evidence of corruption to remove Nawaz Sharif from the role of prime minister. But it ordered a further investigation into money transfers. Questions arose over the business dealings of Mr Sharif’s family when three of his children were linked to offshore accounts in the Panama Papers leaks in 2015. News reports are available on the ruling below: